Summary: How do we mature in Christ as a church? What are some of the main elements involved and how can we put them to use for God’s glory?
My sermon last week on Thanksgiving received more responses from you than usual. Responses are very helpful to me. Preaching becomes a one way conversation between the minister and the church pretty easily. I prayerfully seek to bring a message from the word of God for the good of our family here and it truly helps to know how it is received.
Based on the responses, I decided to clear up some things and pursue others for today’s lesson.
In last week’s sermon I talked about how thanksgiving is worship and how God wants us to be joyful worshippers.
In fact, Psalm 100 talks about coming before God with thanksgiving, gladness, joyful singing, and shouts of praise. We enter his gates and come into his courts and come before his presence with all these attitudes of celebration and festivity. Is this true?
Yes. But is this the only way to approach God? What about reverence and orderliness? What about where the Bible says, “The Lord is in His Holy Temple; let all the earth keep silence before Him?” Isn’t it proper and right to bow in awe of God with godly fear? Isn’t that what worship is? And the answer to these is, “Yes, of course, sometimes!”
There is a time to shout with joy and there is a time to bow in silence. There is a time for jubilant celebration of gladness and praise, and there is a time for quiet reflection and deep meditation. Both of these describe true biblical worship; both may be done in Spirit and in truth. Yes, both. It is not one that is right and the other is wrong; it is both that are right when the time is right.
What I really wanted to get across last week is: We can, and indeed must do everything we do in the name of Jesus Christ, whether it be laughter or tears. Whether it be loud anthems of praise or silent reflections of awe. What I want to impress on us is this: what is WRONG is to give your loud praise to secular worldly matters and only give God the quiet stuff. If you can’t do a thing in the name of Jesus Christ, do not do it at all. Indeed you must not!
If you say, “Well, if I have to do it in the name of Jesus, that rules out a lot of things I like to do.” What on earth are the things you wish to do without God’s blessing and presence? Are we children of God? Is this a part time position?
Listen, when you commit your life to Jesus Christ, you commit all of it to Him! God doesn’t have any part time children! Just imagine if Jesus decided to be a part time Savior! Imagine if he only forgave you for the things you did on weekends, the rest of the time you had to live sinless or it stayed on your record. If that were so, how would you look on the day of Judgment? Aren’t you thankful Jesus is a full time Savior? Then you must also agree that he is a full time Lord.
The Christian life is a 24/7 life or it is nothing. Somebody say “amen.” Now to pursue something else.
Having said all that, what I want to talk about in the time left this morning is the process of becoming mature, faithful children of God, children who know the Lord so that we know when to shout and when to be silent. We need to be raising children who know the Lord so that they can rejoice in the Lord as well as sit quietly and behave properly in the assembly.
This process of maturity involves behaviors, attitudes, beliefs and relationships.
These characteristics are developed by instruction, discipline, mentoring, and fellowship.
The key aspects of each are obedience, humility, Christ centeredness, and love.
Behaviors are simply what we do. When we say to our kids, “behave yourselves”, we usually mean “act with good behavior.” But where does good behavior come from? Is it natural for kids to practice good behavior? What is natural for children? Are they naturally pure and good? Is that what the Bible says about children?
Are children really as good and innocent as their mothers think and feel that they are? What does God’s word say?
Proverbs 22:15 Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child;
The rod of discipline will remove it far from him.
On the other hand, Jesus teaches us to become like little children if we would enter the kingdom of heaven. He said, “Of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 19:14.
What are we to make of this? Is Proverbs right or is Jesus right? Well, obviously both are right! But here’s the beef. A child will still receive disciple and be changed by it. There is hope for the child, because folly may be in his heart, but it can be driven out! Once the child becomes a man or woman, if it is not driven out in childhood, the foolishness gets hardened into their hearts!